I initially had a faecal test which didn’t detect anything, and then a CT Scan showed some swelling in my sigmoid colon and was diagnosed as having Colitis (swelling of the bowel). It apparently presents similar to a tumour on a CT Scan, but a tumour was ruled out given my age (35).
I had a colonoscopy in early February to confirm how serious the Colitis was, but on awakening from the procedure, my Gastroenterologist told me that he had found a tumour in my sigmoid colon, and that I didn’t have Colitis.
I met with my surgeon the following week and had surgery to remove the tumour the week after that on the 19th February. The tumour was about 3cm and 20cm of my bowel was removed, along with 18 lymph nodes in the area. Pathology results showed that 1 of the 18 lymph nodes contained cancer cells - I was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer.
I started chemo (FOLFOX6) in early April and am about to start my 4th round of treatment today. My treatments are fortnightly, and I will need 12 treatments altogether.
We had planned to go the US at Easter for a couple weeks but were afraid we might have to cancel it. However, after talking to my oncologist, I was able to arrange my first and second chemo treatments around the trip. My first treatment started a week and a half before we left so, I was free of the side effects by the time we left. We were so glad that we were able to go, and that treatment could work around it, as we had been looking forward to the holiday since last year. We had a fantastic holiday spending time with family over there and even spent a whole day at Disneyland! The family photos in this post were taken on that trip ?
The first week of my treatments have been pretty tough, particularly days 3 and 4. I have experienced a range of side effects including nausea, fatigue, non-stop hiccupping, and fingers and throat being extremely sensitive to the cold. The second week has been a lot better with energy levels increasing through the week. I’ve managed to play basketball each of my last 2 treatments during the second week which I’ve been extremely happy about.
I am hooked up on chemo drugs for two days and have been aiming to work 8 out of 10 days a fortnight. I find the more active I am, the better I feel, so I actually prefer being at work than sitting around at home. My work has been very supportive and have allowed me flexibility when I need it.
It has been a rollercoaster few months and I am still on the ride, but I am taking each day as it comes and remain confident and positive that I will be cured. I am extremely grateful for the love and support from family and friends, particularly my wife Susie who has been my rock throughout, and my daughter Charlotte who brings me so much joy every day.
Never Too Young Awareness Week
WHAT: A dedicated week (3-9 June 2019) during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month honouring people who have been diagnosed with bowel cancer under the age of 50 and are now living with or beyond the disease, as well as honouring the memory of those who have passed away from young-onset bowel cancer. Sharing photos and stories to raise community awareness of bowel cancer and provide support to young people diagnosed with the disease.
WHEN: Held annually in June each year.
WHY: 1,413 Australians under the age of 50 are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, and that number is growing. We’re not okay with that. You’re not either. Let’s shout it out and shake things up.
WHO: If you are living with or beyond young-onset bowel cancer or are a loved one - we’d love you to join our community of #Never2Young Champions, and to encourage your friends, family and everyone else you know (and maybe even people you don’t) to support Never Too Young Awareness Week too.
Register now to become a #Never2Young Champion and help us spread the word that you’re never too young to have bowel cancer this Never Too Young Awareness Week.
We'll send you further details on how you can get involved, as well as a copy of the latest Never Too Young Awareness Week sign for you to share.